After ignoring the story Friday night, Tucker Carlson took a few moments Monday night to address the report that his top writer, Blake Neff, was according to CNN: “secretly posting racist and sexist material on an online forum.” The Fox News host admitted, “What Blake wrote anonymously was wrong. We don’t endorse those words. They have no connection to the show.” But Carlson couldn’t quite find the words to call the posts what they were, racist and sexist. Instead, he added that “It is wrong to attack people for qualities they cannot control.”
While Neff resigned as a result of being outed, Carlson seemed to place more blame on those who reported the story rather than the writer himself saying:
“We should also point out to the ghouls now beating their chests and triumph of the destruction of a young man that self-righteousness also has its costs. We are all human. When we pretend we are holy, we are lying. When we pose as blameless in order to hurt other people, we are committing the gravest sin of all and we will be punished for it. There’s no question.”
Oliver Darcy, the CNN reporter who broke the story, joined CNN to talk about Carlson’s reaction.
— New Day (@NewDay) July 14, 2020
Variety points out that Fox News official statement was a lot more direct:
Fox News executives characterized Neff’s contributions to the site as “horrendous and deeply offensive,” and noted that “Neff’s abhorrent conduct on this forum was never divulged to the show or the network until Friday, at which point we swiftly accepted his resignation. Make no mistake, actions such as his cannot and will not be tolerated at any time in any part of our work force.”
Now there are questions swirling over whether Carlson was forced to take time off. At the end of his show, Carlson said he won’t be back on-air this week, instead, he will be “trout fishing.”
A "long-planned" vacation that just happens to start the day after he publicly explains that his head writer had to resign for bigoted comments, what are the odds! pic.twitter.com/JF9nBcUDPq
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) July 14, 2020
Gertz, a Senior Fellow at Media Matters, added, “Sending hosts who get in PR trouble on vacation is a classic Fox PR tactic, Carlson had one after calling white supremacy a hoax, Hannity amid the Seth Rick conspiracy theories, Ingraham after attacking David Hogg, etc.”
Ask yourself, even if Fox News wanted to, could they even say Tucker was suspended? Could you imagine the blowback they would get from their audience?
At this point, Fox News is essentially a burning runaway train. There's no one in control there and only damage can follow.
— Angelo Carusone (@GoAngelo) July 14, 2020
But MSNBC’s Chris Hayes argues (watch above) that Fox News is in on it saying:
“You have a guy who had a racist writing his scripts for years, who founded a publication that employed multiple people with ties to white nationalism, who has been praised again and again by the most outspoken racists in the country… Fox News knows what it’s selling, as does Tucker Carlson and the president of course… because in America in 2020 the racist losers who trade vile jokes on internet forums are the people who write the words the talking heads say into the camera and the president tweets out. Those people who write that kind of stuff on messages board, they are basically running the country.”